3.4 Tortfeasor Access
The Court of Appeals refused to extend the class of claims that may breach a spendthrift trust to include claims by tortfeasors. The facts underlying Duvall v. McGee are egregious. The beneficiary of a spendthrift trust was convicted of felony murder. The estate of the victim brought suit to enforce its judgment against the trust. The Court distinguished “a mere judgment creditor” from a spouse or child to whom a beneficiary owes a “duty” of support: “Indeed, to permit the invasion of the Trust to pay the tort judgments of the beneficiary, in addition to thwarting the trust donor’s intent by, in effect, imposing liability on the Trust for the wrongful acts of the trust beneficiary, is, as the appellees argue, to create an exception for “tort victims” or “victims of crimes.” Comment a. to Restatement 3d (2003) § 59 takes a different position: “The nature or pattern of tortious conduct by a beneficiary, for example, may on policy grounds justify a court’s refusal to allow spendthrift immunity to protect the trust interest and lifestyle of that beneficiary, especially one whose willful or fraudulent conduct or persistently reckless behavior causes serious harm to others.” See also, Sligh v. First Nat. Bank of Holmes County, 704 So. 2d 1020 (Miss. 1997) which, as noted in a footnote in DuVall, prompted a legislative reversal so to reinstate immunity from tort claims in 1998. The Commissioners of the Uniform Trust Code (2005) “declined to create an exception for tort claimants” to its exceptions to spendthrift provisions (Section 503).